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Forms of Emergent Interaction in General Process Theory

Johanna Seibt
Synthese
Vol. 166, No. 3 (Feb., 2009), pp. 479-512
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40271169
Page Count: 34
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Forms of Emergent Interaction in General Process Theory
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Abstract

General Process Theory (GPT) is a new (non-Whiteheadian) process ontology. According to GPT the domains of scientific inquiry and everyday practice consist of configurations of 'goings-on' or 'dynamics' that can be technically defined as concrete, dynamic, non-particular individuals called general processes. The paper offers a brief introduction to GPT in order to provide ontological foundations for research programs such as interactivism that centrally rely on the notions of 'process,' 'interaction,' and 'emergence.' I begin with an analysis of our common sense concept of activities, which plays a crucial heuristic role in the development of the notion of a general process. General processes are not individuated in terms of their location but in terms of 'what they do,' i.e., in terms of their dynamic relationships in the basic sense of one process being part of another. The formal framework of GPT is thus an extensional mereology, albeit a non-classical theory with a non-transitive part-relation. After a brief sketch of basic notions and strategies of the GPT-framework I show how the latter may be applied to distinguish between causal, mechanistic, functional, self-maintaining, and recursively self-maintaining interactions, all of which involve 'emergent phenomena' in various senses of the term.

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